Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive treatment to repair vertebral compression fractures offered by Precision Therapy of Imaging Healthcare Specialists in Southern California. These fractures are often caused by osteoporosis, a disease that causes a loss of bone density and makes them susceptible to fracture.

Kyphoplasty is a procedure where an Imaging Healthcare Specialists interventional radiologist will use imaging to guide a tiny cannula into the fractured vertebra. Then, a balloon is inserted to restore height to the bone. After height is restored, the balloon is removed and the cavities are filled with the fast-drying bone cement which stabilizes the fracture.

The majority of patients who have kyphoplasty experience pain relief immediately following the procedure.

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Here are some of the most commonly-asked questions regarding Kyphoplasty

A vertebral compression fracture, common in individuals with osteopenia or osteoporosis, can occur with normal movements or falls, leading to the compression and triangular shaping of vertebrae, known as a wedge compression fracture. This condition, marked by excruciating and constant pain, can be debilitating for patients in their daily activities, emphasizing the importance of awareness about this common and impactful injury.

Traditionally, patients with vertebral compression fractures were offered conservative management involving pain medication, bed rest, and a brace. However, emerging data suggests that early treatment, such as vertebral augmentation (kyphoplasty), can offer significant benefits over conservative approaches. Kyphoplasty, considered a more effective and safer option, can be performed soon after the injury or within several weeks. While fractures may heal over time without intervention, kyphoplasty is a viable option for managing pain and preventing complications associated with prolonged bed rest, muscle loss, and the risk of blood clots.

Kyphoplasty patients often enter with severe back pain, hindering their usual activities. Even with pain medication and a brace, basic tasks remain challenging. However, the procedure typically leads to significant and almost immediate pain relief. Some may experience minor discomfort from the incision, but it usually subsides within a day. The procedure is highly effective, offering a near-miraculous improvement in back pain for the majority of patients, with rare cases of delayed relief.

This procedure is generally safe, with minimal risks. The primary concern is the rare possibility of cement leaking from the fractured vertebra, causing potential harm to surrounding structures. This is closely monitored under x-ray during the procedure to prevent any issues. Infections are uncommon, as antibiotics are administered before the procedure. Bleeding is unlikely due to our approach, avoiding blood vessels, but pre-existing conditions or blood thinners may require attention. Although there’s a remote chance of nerve or nearby structure injury during access, the procedure, guided by fluoroscopy, is well-established, ensuring a low risk of such occurrences.

Kyphoplasty, performed in our outpatient suite in San Diego, involves inserting a needle and balloon into the fractured vertebra under X-ray guidance. Radio-opaque cement is then injected to stabilize the fracture fragments. The procedure typically takes 30 to 45 minutes for a single level fracture, with the cement settling in about 18 minutes.

Recovery from the procedure typically involves 30 to 45 minutes in the outpatient suite, followed by about an hour of rest in our recovery area before going home. Pain relief is often immediate, but may take a day or two for some. Most patients can resume normal activities the next day. Physical therapy or exercise can start the day after the procedure, as the cement sets quickly. However, caution is advised for those with osteopenia or osteoporosis to prevent further injury.

In addition to performing these minimally invasive treatments, the doctors at Precision Therapy of IHS can help you initially by accurately diagnosing your condition. If you are having back pain, we invite you to consult with one of our physicians. As part of your care team, they will work with your primary care doctor, orthopedic specialist or pain management specialist to help determine if kyphoplasty is right for you. Call 858-677-9957 to learn more.

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